Back in early July 2012 we were just starting to get over an exciting few weeks which had included the end of the Spring Club Championship and an amazing weekend taking part in the Ardent Raceway 24hr race, when we recieved an interesting invitation. The organisers of the Japanese Auto Extravaganza, one of the largest Japanese cars shows in the country, invited KMCC to set up a track within the show grounds at Wicksteed Park and put a demonstration of what RC racing is all about. The idea was was very well recieved by club members and 10 people put their names down for our complementary weekend passes for the show.
The weeks rolled by and eventually the week of the show arrived, me, Nathan and Martin made our way down to Wicksteed park on the Thursday before the show to begin setting up and were met by an awkardly shaped fenced off area that we had to transform into a usable track. The park also provided us with 50 large wooden sleepers to help set out a layout which would consist of a simple tarmac track with a couple of grass extensions at either end to create a mixed surface track suitable for both on and off road cars. After several hours hard work we had come up with a layout we were all happy with which included an interesting jump between a couple of signs and a nice long straight (well straight'ish...) to really show the speed of the cars.
Friday morning the gates opened and the show began. The finishing touches were done the camping area and the track and then it was time to bring the cars out. The tarmac surface wasn't great so most people favoured using their off road cars and we quickly learnt the wooden sleepers were going to be pretty unforgiving and there were several broken cars within the first few hours. It was great to see a wide variety of cars on track, we had plenty of 1:10th electric buggies but also some 1:8th nitro buggies a huge 1:5th short course truck, a 1:10th nitro touring car, a nitro monster truck and of course several of our normal touring cars. Perhaps one of the most surprising parts for us racers was how much fun we all had when we swapped our normal grippy race tyres for some super slippy drifting tyres. With the surface being a little rough for the touring cars we all had a go at drifting as the lower speed looked after the cars a little more but it became really addictive and a real crowd favourite too. All in all it was a good first day, great weather, a fun track and a brilliant place to be running our cars.
The evening rolled in and our camp area had a great atmosphere! We had DJ Ben Johnson who had brought along a sound system to rival any other club on the site, BBQ's going well and the large gazebe that John brought along gave us great place to keep warm once the temperature started to fall. Lots of beers, lots of laughs and what felt like sub-zero temperatures! All good though.
Day 2 and another beautiful day began with the BBQ's being fired up again for the bacon sandwiches. We then ventured back over to the track to get set-up for another full day of action which included setting up the timing loop to add a little competition to the days events. Throughout the whole weekend anyone who was attending the show was encouraged to bring along their own cars and join in the fun with us lot and we started to get a few coming along on day 2 which was great. In addition we had the club cars available for anyone to hire for a 5 minute run and we had quite a few come and had a go, and put in some good runs.
With Nathan, Dan, Lee and Martin all having their 2wd off roaders and me with my 8th nitro we were able to stage a few races that seemed popular with the onlooking crowd. John also joined in with his daughters truck that he butchered and made into a real pocket rocket. It was really good fun running different types of car together and how Lee's car survived when my 8th car hit it flat out at the end of the straight i'll never no!!!
It was another day of broken cars too, one club cars gearbox swallowed far to many stones for its own good, the other car ended the day with a snapped rear belt, my 10th buggy was written off after a full speed collision with the sleeper at the end of the straight resulting in a snapped chassis and im sure there were more too. The timing system showed some of the drivers commitment to the track though with Nath having completed over 200 laps with his buggy alone!
The star attraction of the day and probably the weekend to be honest was Richards coach! After his creations for last christmas's fun race, Richards level of creativity went up several levels for this event and he managed to put together a scale replica of the coach from the legendary film 'The Italian Job'. Every time this thing hit the track the whole track would be surrounded by spectators watching as we attempted to load up cars into the rear of the coach via its expertly crafted automatic ramp and doors. It was brilliant fun and every sucessful attempt was met by cheers from the crowd. How Rich will top this is beyond me but im sure his creative
side wont let him rest and will probably have something else already being planned.
Once again the evening drew in and it was time to pack up the cars and crack open the beers. We didn't have DJ Johnson for the second night (how he escaped from home for the first night is a mystery considering it was his wedding anniversary!) but the atmosphere was just as good. We all took a walk around some of the club stands to take in a little of what the show had to offer away from the track and the evening ended with a fantastic firework display.
Day 3 was probably the hottest day of the weekend but was started by a car fixing session over breakfast. We headed over to the track again after breakfast to start the fun all over again and with the most of the show events having been completed the track became quite busy. Lots of people coming over to have a go on with the club car, others asking for advice on cars and how to get started racing and lots more just coming to have a look at our cars and watch some racing. Where the track was set up was great as although we were within the show ground, the fence on the far side was where the general public were walking by to get the rides at the park so we had interested spectators on both sides. Once again Richard's coach was really popular, along with people being surprised on just how fast our electric powered car can go. We also had a visit from one of the traders who were selling miniture HD video cameras who asked if they could attach one of the cameras to a couple of the cars to see how the footage would come out. We got some great video from the front of Johns truck up until he crashed it and then it got attached to Nath's touring car and filmed one of the coach loading sessions, this came out great!
At around 4pm it was time to start packing up which although it was a little sad that it was coming to an end I think most of us were ready to go home to a comfy bed. We all had a great time all weekend and JAE is a brilliant car show, a very laid back and friendly atmosphere. While we were packing away the track one of the shows organisers, John, came over for a chat and thanked us for attending. He liked what we had put together in a relativly short space of time and most importantly invited us to return in 2013 which is great news. Also we had a visit from the events organiser at Wicksteed Park who was also very impressed with what he saw hopefully this will allow us to put on an even better show next year and hopefully with Wicksteed Park's support have a much better area to race in to really show what the cars can do. I already have ideas going round my head of things we can add next year and John and the JAE team officially start planning JAE 2013 in a couple of months time so we wont have to wait long before things start all over again, can't wait!!!
A date for you diaries guys, JAE 2013: Thursday 12th September - Sunday 15th September.